The ring didn’t mean a thing.

Back in the day, I was pretty dumb. I moved to New York with no money, job or apartment. A month after arriving, I start dating a guy (I’ll call him Joe) I met on Adam4Adam (don’t judge). About a month-and-a-half later, he proposed at the top of an escalator at the Forever21 in Herald’s Square.

Red flags aside, I said yes.

I remember saying to my mother what I had with Joe was a “nice, mature relationship.” What a crock of shit that was. Almost immediately after becoming engaged, the crazy came out and I was constantly having the rug pulled out from under me.

In the beginning, Joe would stick to the simple stuff like emotional abuse. “What do you know?” started as a cute thing we’d joke about since I was so new to the city. It stopped being cute when he would say it whenever I’d catch him in a lie. Why did he have an active dating profile or condoms in the glove compartment of his car?

“What do you know?”

He’d say I didn’t really need to eat everything on my plate (I was never more thin as an adult during that time period, by the way). He didn’t drink so I really shouldn’t either. He’d call things off around major holidays and birthdays only to come back around a few days later. I was on the most emotional of rollercoasters but I didn’t really question anything. This was love, right?

Eventually, he went down the physical route. I remember his sister-in-law was over one night and she had to burst into his room to pull us apart because Joe was, you know, casually choking me. After he and his brother threatened my life, I tried to get a restraining order. You know what the officers told me? I should file a complaint which would start a paper trail and if my body ended up in the Hudson, they’d at least have an idea of who to reach out to for questioning.

I was scared to leave my apartment because I thought they were surely waiting for their moment to attack. I was afraid to be in my apartment because they knew where I lived and could easily get inside if they wanted. I didn’t sleep for days. I was a fucking disaster but I ended up going back to him.

Joe never apologized for any of it, either. This prick never told me he was sorry. He would say it was my fault that I made him so crazy. He asked why I couldn’t just be “nice” and make him “feel good.” If you can believe it, this unhealthy, disrespectful drama lasted for a solid year-and-a-half. This is short and mild in comparison to some people’s experiences but it was still a literal hell for me near the end.

On a very nondescript night, Joe came over to my apartment to spend the night. I could tell he was in a bad mood from the minute he walked in. He was cranky because he was hungry but I had eaten already. The fact that I couldn’t even wait to eat with him set him and I suddenly realized I was serving a self-imposed prison sentence. Before things escalated, I told him he needed to leave and this time I knew it would be for good. To my surprise, Joe left.

Over the years, he’s reached out which I have always found humorous. I even got screamed at over text message by a new boyfriend of his who “had heard all about me” but wanted me to know that I was “in the past.” I replied with something along the lines of “Clearly I’m still relevant to him as you know who I am. He never even mentioned you exist. Point for me, none for you.”

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It took me some time to get over what I experienced with Joe. It took time for me to realize I had no idea who I was before I suddenly found myself trying to be the perfect partner in a very tumultuous environment. My first two or three years in New York City left me feeling quite lost. I met a man that I “loved” who chipped away at my self-esteem and I had to learn how to rebuild myself. I’m not glad I went through that experience but I am such a better person because of it. It’s helped me find what I feel like is more of an authentic voice. It’s helped me understand I am perfect in my own way and anyone who tells me I need to change isn’t worth my precious energy. I’ve grown so much and I am grateful for that.

Joe’s a psychopath but guess what? I wish that piece of shit all the best and I sincerely hope he finds peace.

Of all of the posts I’ve written so far, this was the one I most struggled with. I always thought I’d wait to write about it until I had a book deal and could shock the world with emotionally scandalous details. But it’s been somewhat therapeutic for me to be honest and speak my truth with this writing challenge. It was one of the first topics that popped into my mind when I brainstormed post ideas so I couldn’t let this story, as brief as it is here, burn a hole in my pocket any longer.

Well…it looks like you rascals got the scoop! Oprah, if you’re reading this, just know that there is so much more to the story and I’m totally ready to film SuperSoul Sunday episode.

Side note: I listened to my “I Don’t Need You” playlist while writing this post. If you’re going through a breakup or just need something to get you fired up, this playlist will definitely give you what you need (especially that Luke James track).

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